See Flickr slideshow here.
At ZH's behest, him, Ray, Martin & myself signed up for a trek up Gunung Panti, a 512m mountain set in the nature reserve of Kota Tinggi. It's ZH's special day, see.
Dragged ourselves up at 5am because the meeting time was 6.30am at Marsiling mrt. At least we avoided the causeway jam. Did 1 round of introductions at the station, met ZH's 2 frens, one of whom seemed perpetually high - laughing more than half the time.
Breakfast was an uninteresting experience at a slightly "atas" coffeeshop and we were mildly irritated by the poor service. Bought water supplies at a mini-mart along the way, realized how useful it is to know malay.
Time-check 0930. First fumigated ourselves with assorted brands of insect repellent, especially around the ankles at the trek leaders' advice to ward off leeches - though they said we probably wouldn't encounter many. Right before setting off, we were intrigued by a dead giant centipede on the ground on the road.
The trek began at a comfortably fast pace, with the vegetation progressively getting thicker and the track muddier. Excitement and disgust abounded when we spotted our first leech - dark red, 1-inch long with a stump on 1 end, smelling us before trying to worm closer. Near panicked when I got my first, but didn't have the necessary implements to get rid of it - a 2 step process of spray till sock/pants is soaked & flick with finger. The highest leech count of 8 little buggers came from the trek leader leading in front.
The last stretch to the top involved scaling a steep, 20m high rock wall, thankfully already prepped with ropes to guide the trekker along.
Summit cum Leech Shrine
Finally reached the summit at 1145. Leech check and counting of battle wounds. An entertaining hour of jokes about leeches & losing blood ensued. ZH had it worse though; he was 1 of 2 to discover a couple leeches on his waistline and in his hurry to get rid of them, he flicked them off, leaving himself with 2 bleeding wounds, soaking through his shirt. Amazingly, the bleeding didn't stop; a small plaster filled up quickly, an wound cleansing gauze didn't help, and eventually a male trek leader pulled out a Sofy pantiliner - a tribute to Mt. Panti, but really quite useful for such situations. Unfortunately even Sofy couldn't contain ZH's heavy flow for long.
I had an epiphany why people hate leeches even though they probably harmless - because nobody wants to be a free lunch.
After a simple lunch of bread, fruits & nuts (we brought our own, it's not exactly Sun Wukong's peach mountain) and headed back down the same way we came up.
Timecheck 1240. Scaling down the rock wall was treacherously challenging but fun. Went at a hard pace, as the trek leader promised to bring us to a nearby waterfall if we have time. Reached the bottom around 1430. Record time! For us, at least :) Interestingly, hardly saw any leeches on the way down, because the sun's out and these littles vampires shun the light.
Waterfall! Funnily, when I used to see pictures of people who visited waterfalls, it never impressed me, because they are just standing around, sitting down under the waterfall or simply splashing water about. Till I saw the huge torrent of water eternally gushing downwards.
It beckoned to me. Water was cold but relaxing - apparently Martin got calf cramps. Had to wade slowly towards the splash pool because the rocks beneath are v. slippery, covered with some kind of algae film. A couple was taking their wedding shots there, v. nice location. Plus it being Ramadan, the fasting month, the waterfall wasn't crowded at all.
After a quick shower, we made our way to Kota Tinggi town where we were going to have dinner. Got there early so jalan jalan we went to the nearby "pasar malam" - probably just an open pasar, with 1 big section selling streetside food, while the other was clothes, dried food and other knick knacks.
RM1 Chendol proved most satisfying *big grin* - a simple concoction of coconut milk & gulu melaka with green agar worms & red bean. Didn't manage to find a decent-looking Ramly burger stall, because most of it is already prepared whereas we wanted a fresh burger. Instead bought a freshly bbq-ed chicken - looked & smelt really good, the way the skewered fowl was being rotating over charcoal ambers.
Quite evidently, we were all quite pooped from the day's strenuous activities, dozing off while waiting for dinner to be served. Dinner was a satisfying array of the usual Chinese dishes - sambal kang kong, hotplate tofu, chilli crab, sweet & sour deep fried fish etc downed with tie guan yin tea. Then made our way back to JB - I was drooling in my sleep - and eventually reaching SG at 8plus.
Home sweet home! Yay Singapore! And a most fulfilling adventure I had :)